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Technology and Disability communicates knowledge about the field of assistive technology devices and services, within the context of the lives of end users - persons with disabilities and their family members. While the topics are technical in nature, the articles are written for broad comprehension despite the reader's education or training.
Technology and Disability's contents cover research and development efforts, education and training programs, service and policy activities and consumer experiences.
The term Technology refers to assistive devices and services.
- The term Disability refers to both permanent and temporary functional limitations experienced by people of any age within any circumstance.
- The term and underscores the editorial commitment to seek for articles which see technology linked to disability as a means to support or compensate the person in daily functioning.
The Editor also attempts to link the themes of technology and disability through the selection of appropriate basic and applied research papers, review articles, case studies, programme descriptions, letters to the Editor and commentaries. Suggestions for thematic issues and proposed manuscripts are welcomed.
Abstract: The Comprehensive Assistive Technology model was devised to describe the full social and engineering context of assistive technology devices, systems, applications, and provision. It is based on a detailed decomposition of the four attributes: Person, Context, Activities, and Assistive Technology. The paper commences will a brief discussion of the different representations of the model, including tree-diagrams, labelled attributes and tables and the use of engineering block diagrams to supplement some elements of the description. The main contribution of the paper is the presentation of four case studies of different applications of the model. These are the identification of accessibility barriers,…the analysis and synthesis of assistive technology systems and the provision of a framework for identifying end-user requirements, providing assistive technology and assessing the associated outcomes. This case study involves the presentation of the novel concept of a personal assistive technology profile.
Abstract: The aim of this study was to explore the individual circumstances of people with Parkinson's disease, as well as their ideas and opinions about assistive technology that may be used for daily living. A self-reported, user survey was designed. The results of the study were derived from a postal survey of randomly chosen members of the Parkinson's Association of Ireland. Analysis were conducted on data from 59 people. According to the survey results the majority of the participants reported problems with mobility (88%), fatigue (54%), and getting tired fast (70%). Problems with mobility included changing location (59%) and body position…(51%–53%). Thirty four and twenty five percent of respondents described their physical strength and flexibility, respectively, as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’. For 81% of participants it was important to be able to contact someone in a case of a fall. The results of this study indicate a possible underutilisation of assistive technologies and technology by people with Parkinson's disease. In addition, the study identifies areas in which there is a demand for assistive technologies.
Abstract: Individuals with aphasia have difficulty with many language tasks. In addition, hemiplegia of the dominant side of the body, which frequently accompanies aphasia, can limit use of a writing implement, keyboard, or mouse. These factors make it difficult for individuals with aphasia to create text. Automatic speech recognition (ASR) could address this need. However, ASR accuracy for aphasic speech is limited. Work on decoupling speech production from real-time constraints has shown that some individuals with aphasia can improve the quality of their speech by using a “processing prosthesis,” software that allows users to record speech fragments and build them into…larger structures by manipulating visual icons. This paper describes a study assessing the efficacy of combining the prosthesis with ASR. ASR accuracy was compared for speech samples created with and without the prosthesis by four individuals with aphasia; for three participants, ASR was markedly more accurate for utterances created with the prosthesis. While the support of the prosthesis alone does not increase ASR accuracy enough to support general dictation applications for users with aphasia, it suggests that offline support along with measures such as training and vocabulary restriction may eventually enable individuals with aphasia to use ASR for everyday tasks.
Abstract: Research and development has been conducted on a “hands-free” brain wave activity (electroencephalography-based) assistive technology device called the Mind Switch. It has been designed to provide a severely disabled person (such as someone with tetraplegia) with the ability to switch using their brain activity and thus activate devices in the environment. An area of concern has been the time it takes to complete set-up of the system before individual use, as well as the occurrence of errors in switching rates. In order to improve the user friendliness of the system, this study compared the efficacy of detecting electroencephalography (EEG) changes…in brain signals that occur with eye closure and used as a “switch”, with two different methods of processing the EEG. Using data from spinal cord injured participants, fractal analysis, that is, the change in fractal dimension of the EEG wave during eye closure was compared to the original method of using spectral analysis change. In comparison to the spectral technique, the fractal dimension technique improved set up time, and was substantially improved in reducing the number of false positive and false negative errors when activating the device. Furthermore, the time to switch was also marginally reduced when using fractal dimension processing. Implications for improving the viability of an EEG based environmental control system for the severely neurologically injured are discussed.
Keywords: Spinal cord injury, assistive technology, electroencephalogram (EEG), environmental control system (ECS), fractal dimension, spectral analysis